Proposed Reform for California Coastal Commission
Democratic lawmakers are considering requiring lobbyists to report their activities involving the California Coastal Commission (CCC), following a large public outcry of foul play after the unexplained ouster on Feb. 10 of Executive Director Charles Lester who held the position since 2011.
Assembly Bill 2002 would require lobbyists to disclose who they work for, how much they were paid and what issues they brought to various commissioners. The CCC is the state agency which looks after the 1,100-mile California coastline which has oversight of coastal land use and public access.
The 12-member commission who met with Lester voted 7–5 to remove him in a closed-door session, saying they were bound by law to protect his privacy. This was at odds with the commission’s chief counsel who said Lester waived his right to privacy when he asked for a public hearing.
After the vote was disclosed, several commissioners were escorted out of the meeting which nearly 100 Lester supporters attended.
SFMTA Fare Increases Likely
Muni fare and private parking fee increases are likely after a public hearing indicated a projected decrease in San Francisco Municipal Transit Authorities’ (SFMTA) capital budget, used for maintenance, upgrades and construction on the transit system.
Projections show a decrease in the capital account of $750 million over the next five years. Parking fee profits are also indicated to fall by as much as $13.5 million in 2017
Muni fares may increase from $2.25 to $2.50 with monthly fare passes and residential parking permit fees following suit. Citations for street cleaning violations would rise from $68 to $78 and boot removal would go from $365 to $465.
Budget documents for the SFMTA indicate fare and fee increases are due to the rate of inflation. The Board will consider the fare increase at its April 5 meeting.
Two Injured In Multi-Vehicle Accident On Ocean Avenue
A chain-reaction crash occurred Feb. 12 on Ocean Avenue by City College around 11:30 a.m. involving four vehicles and a line 49 Muni bus that resulted in two injured and rushed to the hospital.
A white truck landed diagonally on top of a tan Taurus sedan, bursting the car’s windshield and a window in the adjacent Muni bus and showering shattered glass on the pavement. San Francisco police officers and Muni personnel responded immediately.
The intersection reopened at 2 p.m. after Muni personnel fixed the cable lines. Police refused to give any information until further investigation.
Berkeley Man Wanted For Sexual Assault
University of California Berkeley’s Police Department are searching for a man who sexually assaulted a student at on the Berkeley campus last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
An unidentified female student was walking on the sidewalk near People’s Park when a man grabbed the student from the back and assaulted her around 9:20 p.m. on Feb. 11. The man was described as being in his mid-20s, with curly hair and a beard, standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall, the Berkeley Police Department reported.
Anyone with information about the attack should contact UC Berkeley police at (510) 981-5900.
Leaders Announce Political Corruption Task Force
District Attorney George Gascon and FBI Special Agent David Johnson announced the formation of the San Francisco Political Corruption Task Force at a press conference on Feb. 16 to investigate political corruption and end pay-for-play politics in San Francisco.
The announcement is under a federal protective order as the investigation is already underway, the San Francisco Examiner reported. Three politicians have already been charged since the beginning of the investigation.
The partnership makes explicit the FBI’s authority to use undercover agents, seek court authority to wiretap and work with informants. The FBI experience and resources greatly enhance Gascon’s capacity to investigate the alleged corruption.
The task force was partly inspired by the wiretaps obtained by the FBI during the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case. The transcripts showed a complicated scam designed to skirt the legal campaign contribution limit.
Muni Restructures Youth Fines
Muni is considering lessening the fines for minors with infractions, such as not giving up a seat for an elderly person or evading the fare.
Currently, a person under the age of 18 can face fines twice as large as fines for adults who commit the same indiscretion, KTVU reported. Youth violation tickets can cost more than $300.
Minors caught violating the laws have to pay the fine, plus their citations are regarded as criminal offenses. On Feb. 9, SFMTA’s board voted to decriminalize youth citations.
“When we moved forward with decriminalizing these citations, it only allowed a smaller price because you don’t have to go through the court system,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said. “We wanted to make sure that there was parity for both adults and youth violations.”
Many youths depend on the SFMTA public transit system, which reports an average total daily ridership of 702,000.